Summary: What knowledge do you possess concerning life after death? What are you certain of? The Spirit-filled Christian longs to be clothed in a body fit for all eternity.
2 CORINTHIANS 5:1-5 [GAINING PERSPECTIVE Series]
OUR ETERNAL HOME
What knowledge do you possess concerning [life and] life after death? What are you certain of? Man can be described as dwelling in a body during this time, but how does he live in the next life? What is the deep longing of the soul who has found life here and now? Is the life we are experiencing a mere blind whirl of unintelligent forces accidentally occurring and being structured only by our own or other people's wills? Or is there a divine guidance and a diving purpose to life?
In a very striking way this passage presents the Christian certainty as to his final future by what is occurring in the Christian's life right now. The Spirit-filled Christian longs to be clothed in a body fit for all eternity (CIT).
Paul refused to give into any evil force or be distracted from his set objectives despite whatever perplexity or despair or affliction or any other suffering for Christ he experienced. He could do so because he knew that when his earthly house perished he had a house in heaven. His certainty of this fact was caused by the groaning of the Holy Spirit within him. You who experience the same Holy Spirit longings should have the same certainty.
I. AN EARTHY TENT & A HEAVENLY BUILDING, (1).
II. OUR GROANING FOR ETERNAL CLOTHING, (2- 4).
III. PREPARED FOR THE PURPOSE OF LIFE, (5).
Verse 1 reference our heavenly body as a construct or building made by God. “For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
The knowledge of which the apostle says “we know” is a specific knowledge which has been granted to seeking believers. It does not spring from human intellect but rises from one’s relationship with the Holy Spirit. John spoke of this knowledge that comes out of one's love relationship with God in John 14:21. “He who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest [disclose] Myself to him.”
When the famous biologist LOUIS PASTEUR stood at the bedside of his dying daughter, he said, "I know only scientifically determined truth, but I am going to believe what I wish to believe, what I cannot help but believe -I expect to meet this child in another world."
Pasteur's great affirmation of faith stopped short of being absolute scientific certainty. The most devoted and knowledgeable Christian scholars agree that our religious claims cannot be subjected to laboratory testing and proven scientifically. Yet Pasteur was right. The apostle Paul said, "we know." How could he know? Didn't we just acknowledge that we can't offer scientific proof for this belief?
The source of our certainty comes from God as He helps us to sense in our hearts the reality of His love for us (Jn. 14:21). That inner witness is as sure as any empirical test. Jesus said that all who love Him will be assured of His love and the Father's. This is the key to certainty. Our assurance rests more on God's love in our hearts than the logic in our heads. The Holy Spirit uses love to assure us that we belong to God for time and eternity. Blessed be His Name!
The knowledge we gain though God's Word and our relationship with Him is that if our earthly tent is torn down we have an eternal building from God. Earthly [epigeios] tent [æêçíïò from zka, to cover] is an expression which like earthen vessel (4:7) emphasizes the fragile impermanence of our present bodies. A tent is a familiar picture of what is transitory and without foundation. For Jews who had participated in the annual feast of tabernacles in memory of camping in the wilderness while awaiting entrance into the Land of Promise it would be an even more powerful metaphor.
If our tent is torn down dismantled, dissolved or destroyed, we need not fear for it is only swept away to make room for a permanent building. Our physical body is only the house in which we live. When a believer dies his body goes to the grave, but the soul and spirit goes to be with God (Phil. 1:20-25) for to be absent from the body is to be at home with God (5:6). Dying is not “leaving home” but “going home.”
The Bible promises that we have a building from God. The “house not made with hands” is our resurrected body, a glorious body custom-made for eternity. We presently possess the title to it and await it by faith (Gal. 3:27; l Cor. 12:13; Eph. 4:24). Faith is that title deed of things hoped for (Heb. 11:7). This is a building not a tent with its thin canvas and bent poles because our heavenly abode has eternal foundations and is of permanent construction. The Bible teaches not only immortality of our soul but also immortality of the body that will cloth it. Our body gives us definiteness and allows us to relate to our environment, so our glorified body will allow us to relate to the environs of heaven. We will not be disembodied spirits in the New Heaven and Earth, but will have a glorified body. When Jesus Christ returns for His own, He will raise our dead bodies and transform them and the glorified body and spirit shall be joined together for all eternity in heaven (1 Cor. 15:35-58; 1 Thes. 4:13-18).